The number of foreign visitors arriving in Turkiye jumped 38.4% from a year earlier in October, official data showed on Monday, sustaining a strong recovery from the slump which began in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 4.8 million tourists arrived last month, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said, compared to 3.47 million in October 2021 and 1.74 million in October 2020.
In addition to the influx from Russia, the rebound this year has been driven by a major leap in demand from Europe, spearheaded by Germany and the United Kingdom.
Russian visitors, hit by flight restrictions applied by Western countries after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, topped the list among nations in October with 467,814 arrivals.
They were followed by Germany at 746,192, the United Kingdom at 388,017,Bulgaria at 326,429 and Iran at 185,945, the data showed.
In the first 10 months of the year, the number of foreign visitors climbed 88.1% to 39.61 million, on pace to roughly match the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
The 10-month figure stood at 21.1 million in 2021, 11.2 million in 2020 and 40.7 million in 2019, the Culture and Tourism Ministry said.
Istanbul, Turkiye’s most famous province and the largest one by population, was the top draw for foreign visitors, welcoming 13.4 million tourists from January through October this year.
It was followed by the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya with 12.2 million visitors, while Edirne, a northwestern province bordering Bulgaria and Greece, welcomed nearly 4 million tourists, the data showed.
Germans made up 13.3% of all visitors in the 10-month period with 5.3 million, followed by Russians with 4.6 million, Britons 3.2 million, Bulgarians 2.3 million and Iranians with 2 million.
If Turkish citizens living abroad are added to the count, the 10-month figure reaches 45 million.
Tourism revenues are vital to Turkiye’s economy as the government’s new economic program focuses on flipping the chronic current account deficits to a surplus, prioritizing exports, production and investments, and aiming to lower the increase in consumer prices.
The government raised its year-end tourism targets for the second time this year in late October. It now expects 50 million tourists and $44 billion in revenues, up from 47 million and $37 billion set in July and 45 million arrivals and $35 billion in income it had estimated at the beginning of the year.
The number of foreign visitors soared 94.1% to 24.71 million last year when COVID-19 measures were eased compared to 2020. Tourism revenues doubled to almost $25 billion but remained well below the level recorded in 2019.